The main purpose of the festival is to educate residents about bear safety issues while at the same time providing some fun and entertainment for the community, according to Kim Collier.
State senator Daniel Mongiardo introduced legislation to have the Tri-Cities of Harlan County officially declared by resolution to be the "Black Bear Capital of Kentucky." Kingdom Come State Park provides a perfect natural habitat for the black bears. Future plans include funding for a black bear sanctuary.
The entertainment schedule includes Arthur Johnson at 9 a.m., Tri-City Messengers at 10 a.m., Pine Mountain Grass at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., Jason Scott at noon, Sugar & Spice Cloggers at 1 p.m., Dana Fleming Magic at 2 p.m., Emma Kaelyn Parks at 3 p.m., and East Kentucky Tyme at 4 p.m.
Exhibits and booths will include: woodcraft and basket demonstrators, craft and food booths, a magician and a balloon artist, kids rides and face painting. Additionally, Tri-City News will sponsor a coloring contest, the Kentucky National Guard will have the obstacle course and rock wall and the Tri-City Little League will have a dunking booth.
A Passport promotion will be held. Participants will pick up a ticket and stroll around to each vendor and demonstrator to get the ticket stamped, then turn it in to register to win a prize. The prize for children is a bike, and the prize for adults is a gas grill. No purchase will be necessary to get the ticket stamped.
At Kingdom Come State Park, the events will include archery, fishing, clowns, meeting Smokey the Bear, learning how black bears are tracked and trapped along with a lecture from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In the last year there has been a rise in the number of bear sightings throughout the park.
According to park manager Rick Fuller, over 30 new bears have been trapped, tagged and released by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The reason for the trapping the bears is to collect scientific data, such as weight, size, measurements, blood and hair samples, and pulling a tooth. All the data is collected and entered into a database for future scientific use.
If interested in volunteering, call Collier at the Cumberland Tourism Commission at 589-5812.